Essay Preview: Ozymandias
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Percy Bysshe Shelleys “Ozymandias” portrays a travelers experience in the desert and his encounter with a fallen statue of an Egyptian pharaoh Ozymandias, also known as Ramses II of Egypt. The Egyptian pharaoh was a tyrant of his time, enslaving his subjects to work at his will and terrified others with his unforgettable policies, such as his oppression of the Jews. On the other hand, Shelley, a romanticist during the 1800s in England, favored revolutions and despised tyrants. He believed that despotism led to the downfall of the country by arousing dissatisfaction among the countrys citizens. With this idea, Shelley criticizes Ramses II, using satirical methods and by incorporating irony throughout the poem to ridicule the despot and his deceased contributions to the world.
Shelley satirizes Ozymandias through the travelers perspective and his telling of his experience in the desert. The traveler claims he witnessed “Two vast and trunkless legs of stone/ Stand in the desert. Near them, on the sand,/ Half sunk, a shattered visage lies, whose frown/ And wrinkled lip, and sneer of cold command(2,5).” This description of the destroyed statue symbolizes that the once great pharaoh could not withstand the ruthless effect of time. The shattered statue of Ozymandias now lies in ruins across the desolate desert, which shows glory never lasts forever. The lines, “Tell that its sculptor well those passions read/ Which yet survive, stamped on these lifeless things,/ The hand that mocked them, and the heart that fed:” state that the pharaohs intents and passions will “survive” to outlive the sculptor of the statue and the king himself, but in the end, it became part of the barren, worthless desert, hardly noticed by travelers across the desert. On the pedestal, its written, “My name is Ozymandias, king of kings:/ Look on my works, ye Mighty, and despair!(10,11)” The egotistical comment left by Ozymandias suggests that others should be in awe of the pharaohs great works and contributions. However, the following lines, “Nothing beside remain. Round the decay/ Of that colossal wreck, boundless and bare/ The lone and level sands stretch far away.” tells the readers that the pharaohs